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MOSCOW, January 21 (Itar-Tass) — Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in St Daniel’s Monastery on Saturday.
Patriarch Kirill thanked the Palestinian leader for preserving holy places in Palestine. Abbas was given a prize of the Fund of the Unity for the Orthodox Peoples for his personal contribution to ensuring inter-religious peace in the Middle East.
“It is very symbolic because we are not Orthodox. By giving you this prize we’d like to express our special respect to your deeds by preserving holy places in Palestine, maintaining inter-religious peace on the Holy Land, including to your support for the Russian Orthodox people,” the Russian patriarch said.
He also noted Abbas’ contribution “to the development of relationship between the peoples of Russia and Palestine”.
The Russian patriarch congratulated Abbas on Palestine’s joining UNESCO (the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). In his view, “this proves that the world community recognises Palestine.”
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed satisfaction with the growth of Russian Orthodox pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He expressed gratitude to Abbas for contribution to returning lots of the Russian Church Mission, which has existed in the Holy Land since 1847. “Today these places are under restoration,” Patriarch Kirill stressed.